Jason Birch (DPhil, Oxon) is a historian of South Asian traditions of yoga and medicine. He is a Senior Research Fellow of the ‘Light on Hatha Yoga’ project, hosted at SOAS University of London and the University of Marburg; co-director of the Yogacintāmaṇi Project at the University of Massachusetts Boston; and a visiting researcher on the Suśruta Project at the University of Alberta. He is well known for his important paper on the meaning of haṭha in early Haṭhayoga, which has reshaped our understanding of the origins of this term by locating it within Buddhist literature. His dissertation focused on a seminal Rājayoga text called the Amanaska. Through extensive fieldwork in India and the reconstruction of primary sources, Birch has identified the earliest text to teach a system of Haṭhayoga and Rājayoga, namely the twelfth-century Amaraugha. His most recent publication has defined a corpus of Sanskrit and vernacular texts that emerged during Haṭhayoga’s floruit, the period in which it thrived on the eve of colonialism.
Jason has published articles in academic journals and critically edited and translated six texts on Haṭhayoga for the Hatha Yoga Project 2015–2020; taught Masters courses and Sanskrit reading classes at SOAS and given seminars on the history of yoga for MA programs at the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, Won Kwang University in South Korea and Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. He is a founding member of the Centre of Yoga Studies SOAS and the Journal of Yoga Studies, and combines his practical experience of yoga with academic knowledge of its history to teach online courses with Jacqueline Hargreaves on The Luminescent.
2023. (with J. Hargreaves.) “Premodern Yogāsanas and Modern Postural Practice: Distinct Regional Collections of Āsanas on the Eve of Colonialism.” In Yoga and the Traditional Physical Practices of South Asia: Influence, Entanglement and Confrontation, Eds. Daniela Bevilacqua and Mark Singleton. Journal of Yoga Studies (Special Issue): 31–82. DOI: https://doi.org/10.34000/JoYS.2023.V4.01.
2022. (with S.V.B.K.V. Gupta.) “The Ocean of Yoga: An Unpublished Compendium Called the Yogārṇava.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 50, 345–385 (2022). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-022-09504-6
2020. “The Quest for Liberation-in-Life. A Survey of Early Haṭha and Rāja Yoga.” Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 8.
2020. “Haṭhayoga’s Floruit on the Eve of Colonialism.” Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. Chapter 19: 451–479. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004432802_021
2019. (with M. Singleton.) “The Yoga of the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati: Haṭhayoga on the Cusp of Modernity.” Journal of Yoga Studies, Vol. 2 (2019): 3–70. DOI: https://doi.org/10.34000/JoYS.2019.V2.002
2019. “The Amaraughaprabodha: New Evidence on the Manuscript Transmission of an Early Work on Haṭha- and Rājayoga.” Journal of Indian Philosophy, 47 (2019): 947–977. Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-019-09401-5
2018 (submitted 2013). “The Proliferation of Āsana-s in Late Mediaeval Yoga Texts.” in: Yoga in Transformation. Vienna: V&R Vienna University Press. Chapter 3: 101–180.
2018. “Premodern Yoga Traditions and Ayurveda: Preliminary Remarks on Shared Terminology, Theory and Praxis.” History of Science in South Asia, Vol. 6 (April): 1–83. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18732/hssa.v6i0.25
2015. “The Yogataravali and the Hidden History of Yoga.” Namarupa Magazine, Issue 20 (Spring 2015).
2013. “The Amanaska: King of All Yogas: A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation with a Monographic Introduction.” DPhil Thesis, University of Oxford.
2013. “Rājayoga: The Reincarnations of the King of All Yogas.” The International Journal of Hindu Studies 17, 3: 401–444. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11407-014-9146-x
2011. “The Meaning of haṭha in Early Haṭhayoga.” The Journal of the American Oriental Society 131, no. 4 (2011): 527–54. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41440511.
2011. “Universalist and Missionary Jainism: Jain Yoga of the Terāpanthī Tradition.” In Yoga in Practice, Ed David White, University of Chicago Press
Some of Jason’s work can be downloaded from his academia.edu webpage.